Very Personal Share

I’m not one that likes to put my face in front of a camera.  I hate it.  I really do.  I have been promising some before and after pictures from my weight loss journey this past year – but I’ve been promising them for almost nine months, and I haven’t mustered up the energy or focus to get it done.  Well, I have no excuse, I have to do this.

I don’t know when exactly I began to gain weight but it seemed to happen quick.  I have been tiny all of my life.  In fact, in my last year of high school, I became anorexic and went down to around 80 pounds (nothing like having teen girls make fun of you for having actual calves…. stick legs were the thing apparently! and trust me when I say, no amount of weight loss is going to make naturally muscular calves turn into stick legs).  I look back on pictures and am totally disgusted by the way my collarbones stuck out, but then I noticed some pictures last year and had to face the facts head on.  I had gained.  Bad.

A few years ago, I was going through what one might call some sort of crisis.  I was doing things completely out of my character, maintaining toxic relationships, and just overall was miserable.  The photography industry became a sinking ship, and I must not have realized how much my identity had been wrapped up in photography that I feel like I had lost myself.   Dean stuck things out with me, and I don’t know why.  I had not been giving him the love and attention that he deserved.  He is just an amazing man.  I love him with all my heart.

I have distanced myself a bit from photography.  I still photograph clients part time, but I have another career focus and picked up an accounting position while I build my resume back to a more serious level.  It is difficult to tell people that you were a photographer/studio owner and have them take you serious in “the real world.”  They usually get a little smirk  or are on the verge of an eyeroll because they think photographers are just the hobbyists having a little fun on the side – since after all, their brother, sister, friend, aunt, uncle, cousin, and dog are also “photographers” – they have no idea that some photographers, like me, were real business people that ran actual businesses that supported our families, not a playtime jobby (as some call it now)…. but that’s beside the point.  I’ve made a lot of changes in my life, and excited for the future.

herniation4Anyway, yeah… the weight thing…. The gain was happening – those personal depression issues seemed to start it.  Then Erynn had her accident where I injured my back – remember this lovely herniation?  I kept gaining because I could hardly walk for months.  I was miserable.  I tried to hide it the best I could, but when I went to my first interview to be an accountant, I realized that I had outgrown all of my business clothes!

This had to end.  IMMEDIATELY.


Having the new job was probably the best thing I ever did for my weight.   Having a set schedule where you eat at a certain time and cannot snack easily in between keeps you focused.   Structure.  Who knew the life of a photographer with no real structure as the industry began to fall apart would cause a floundering effect that was so bad for my health.

So………. I lost 30 pounds in three months.  That is WAY too quickly, but it worked for me.

weight loss

I tried to only do snapshots because I don’t need anyone to say it was the “trick of the light” or anything else like I see every day on social media where people are saying that these special pills, wraps, oils, or herbs work.   I’m wearing the same (or close to the same) tanktop and same exact pair of pants.  I wanted to stand the same way and stand in the same place in my room in natural light.    You can see, we still don’t have that cable from the TV secured in a good way haha!

Another before and after.  If you look at this picture below of me on horseback, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I was tagged in it…. I had so much extra weight in my belly and thighs.  Dean was kind enough not to say anything about it.

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and it’s not just weight loss in the body, when you lose significant weight, the amount that you see it in your face is crazy!

This was a picture of me from a webcast – I guess I’m glad they grabbed the shot where I’m looking up!  There’s an entire other chin right there.  When I saw that image of myself, I was quite alarmed.  I actually have a jaw line now!



before after


I’ve been asked so many questions.  Prior to doing this, I didn’t think it was possible.  I’m going to go ahead and answer the questions that I have been asked AND the questions I had for other people when I wished I could lose the weight too.

How did you do it?   Calorie restriction, better choices, and strict schedule.  I restricted my calories to between 900 and 1,200 daily.   Having the schedule of a day job kept me in line.   Cutting sugar and cream out of my coffee and drinking it black was the best move I made for my blood sugar – having done that, I did not have low blood sugar issues.  I don’t drink soda so I didn’t have to cut that out – it was already out of my diet.

How did you eat on the run?   I ate out almost every day.   I actually would drive to Wawa during my lunch break and buy food – pita with hummus, grapes and cheese, apples and peanut butter, or carrots/celery and peanut butter.  You fool yourself when you are hungry and think you need a full meal.  If you sit down with something small and eat it, and then reevaluate if you are still hungry – most of the time, you are actually not hungry anymore.  The rest of my daily meals were portion control.  I usually had a breakfast burrito in the morning before work.

Did you cheat on your diet?  Absolutely.  I made it a point to eat like a pig at least one day a week.  It was like it shocked my body, and the day after, I would lose a pound.

Did you exercise?  No.  Having a day job, a part-time business, and being in college part time, I don’t really have a lot of free time.  When I do have free time, I spend it with the family, so exercising was not a part of my weight loss routine.

Would you consider this an unhealthy way to lose weight?  Of course it was unhealthy.  There were days I was only eating 900 calories.  That is far from a good recommendation.  My hair fell out.  My skin got really gross – weird colored, sunken in.  I also ended up in the hospital at one point with a raging kidney infection.   There was one point that I was so obsessed with restricting my calories that I may have been heading down the anorexia path again like in high school.  I liked the feeling of control.  That was about the point where I had to stop losing weight and maintain.  I’ve maintained for nine months now, so I think I can go ahead back to finishing my weight loss with another 5-10 pounds in the next few months.  While no one recommends losing weight this quickly, it worked for me.  I think my personality needed it to happen this way.

Did you exercise?  No, I did not.  Not a bit.  Really!!!

Any myths that you want to debunk?  

“Don’t look at the scale every day.”  This is bull — I needed to see the scale every day.  I needed to know what was going on.  Seeing the scale determined my day.  I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but it did for me.

“If you lose it quick, you can’t keep it off.”  Well, it’s a good thing I waited nine months to share this, right?  I haven’t gained anything back.  When you develop habits of “better choices”, you keep that habit.

“I could never drink black coffee.”  I said this to everyone.  I didn’t believe I could.  I still have my mocha latte at Bagelmeister every Friday… but, when I wake up in the morning, I grab black coffee, and head out the door with it.  I cut the cream/sugar cold turkey.  It’s not that bad especially if that is the only choice you give yourself while you are driving down the road.

Why are you trying to lose more weight – aren’t you satisfied?  I’m very happy with where I am right now; however, I will be 40 next year.  I had a goal by the time I was 40, to be a certain weight, and I’m about 8 pounds away from it.    I’d also like to tone up a bit.  It’s very difficult with my schedule to exercise and now that I will be working on my Math and Actuarial Sciences degree, since I’m just about done my Accounting degree…. but there are always things you can improve.  I’ve developed way better eating habits, so maybe it’s time I developed some better exercise habits as well.

About Jodie Otte

Maryland Newborn Photographer and Child Portrait Artist, Jodie Holstein-Otte, specializes in unique photography of newborn babies, kids, and families. She works on location in Harford, Howard, Cecil, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and other areas throughout Maryland. She uses both both natural lighting and soft studio lighting techniques.

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